Dighton fire chief suspended without pay amid criminal charges

Dighton Fire Chief Antone P. Roderick, Jr. seen shortly after receiving the President's Award from the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. (Photo: Taunton Gazette | Mike Gay)

DIGHTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Dighton’s fire chief has been suspended without pay amid accusations of using public funds to finance his personal wardrobe.

The town’s Board of Selectmen made the decision Wednesday at a meeting at Dighton Town Hall. Board members said they felt disappointed and betrayed that Chief Antone Roderick, Jr. displayed unacceptable judgement and conduct.

Board Chairman Dean Cronin said it’s alleged Roderick was using his own and other firefighters’ clothing allowances to purchase personal items.

The discrepancies were revealed during a recent audit of town finances, according to Cronin. He said the board brought the discrepancies to the office of Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III, which in turn filed charges against Roderick including larceny, intimidation of a witness, and a public employee standards violation.

Cronin said each firefighter is allotted $1,050 a year for clothing.

Roderick was arraigned in court Tuesday and released on his own recognizance.

According to Cronin, Roderick is a 20-year veteran of the fire department and has been chief for the past 11 years.

The town’s deputy fire chief will now assume the chief’s duties. If Roderick is acquitted of the charges, he’ll be reinstated to the position.

The DA’s office had no comment but said there will be a pre-trial conference on March 1, 2017.

Roderick’s attorney, Andrew H. Lynch, released the following statement on Wednesday.

“Chief Roderick has been a dedicated public servant for the town of Dighton for over 25 years ensuring the safety of the town and its citizens. He is saddened by the allegations made against him and strongly denies them, including unfounded allegations made by town officials. Chief Roderick maintains his innocence, awaits his day in court and has no further comment at this time.”